Top Myanmar Travel Tips – His Myanmar Travel
Myanmar or Burma? Why Did it Modify Its Name?
The country formally called Burma acquired independence in 1948 from occupying forces, yet it had not been up until 1989 that the ruling military junta changed the country’s name from Burma to Myanmar following a military coup.
Politically, the name Burma was viewed as a relic of the nation’s former British colonial past, and Myanmar as a lot more inclusive of the numerous ethnic groups in the country. Various other names were also changed, which is why you will certainly see Rangoon currently referred to as Yangon.
For tourism, Burma travel is Myanmar travel. Same same, as they say in Southeast Asia.
Both the names Burma and Myanmar are still used interchangeably, on the ground and on the world stage. This write-up breaks down the changes, what you ‘should’ say and the question: does it even matter?
Ideal Times to Go To Myanmar
There are usually three periods in which you can see Myanmar:
October to March: Dry, winter
March to May: Hot, summer period
May to October: Damp, rainy season
The popular, high season is November to February when the weather condition is warm yet not stifling, as well as draws in the greatest number of visitors. This, consequently, makes the restricted lodging choices tricky to secure and will imply attempting to book ahead or deal with paying out for the much more expensive alternatives left over.
March to May is the time when the temperature level rises in Myanmar as well as impending rainfalls are due. There is a limited number of vacationers that makes it very easy to book accommodation however it is exceptionally warm.
An e-Visa is offered to travellers from these 100 nations.
To get one, go to the main e-Visa website. You’ll need to upload a passport photo as well as pay a charge of $50.
It takes under 10 minutes to apply as well as you should obtain authorization within 3 working days.
Print out your e-Visa letter, show it when you arrive and you’re in.
Your e-Visa letter stands for 90- days from the date of issue as well as permits you a 28 day stay in Myanmar
Getting a visa from your local embassy may be less expensive– if you want to save some cash, making an application for a visa via your local Myanmar consular office may be cheaper. For instance, the expense is just , 14 in the UK however $40 in the USA, so do your research and also do not neglect to consider mailing expenses.
It is only possible to enter Myanmar on an e-visa at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports; and also at three Thai-Myanmar land boundary crossings Tachileik, Myawadi (Myawaddy) and Kawthoung (Kawthaung). Check the immigration internet site for the current at the time you travel.
Getting to Myanmar
Flights to Myanmar are the usual option for tourists as the first mode of access, with routine scheduled services from Bangkok. But, taking into consideration where Myanmar is located– bordered by China to the North and northeast, Thailand as well as Laos to the east and India and Bangladesh to its west– there are numerous methods for land access, although not all of them are advised because of safety.
No matter, you have to specify a “Port of Entry” in your on-line application which denotes exactly how you will be reaching Myanmar. You will certainly be provided a list of options, from which you will need to choose among the following:
Myanmar Designated International Airports:
- Mandalay (located right in the center of Myanmar)
- Yangon (located in the south)
- Nay Pyi Taw (situated in between Mandalay as well as Yangon)
Going Across at Land Border Checkpoints:
- Tachileik (in the Shan State of eastern Myanmar on the border to northern Thailand)
- Myawaddy (in the Kayin State of southeastern Myanmar on the border to western Thailand)
- Kawthaung (in the most southern part of Myanmar, in the Tanintharyi Area on the border of the Thai Peninsula and also the cluster of islands)
- Tamu (in the Sagaing Region of northwestern Myanmar on the border to northeastern India).
- Rih Khaw Dar (a six-hour drive from the boundary town of Khawmawi in the northwestern Chin State of Myanmar on the boundary of Southeastern India).
In reality, you can enter Myanmar at any designated “Port of Entry” but it is best to adhere to the one you originally specified preferably to prevent any hold up in the handling of your visa upon arrival.
You can exit at any of the International Airports and also Land Boundary Checkpoints given that your exit point does not need to be mentioned up front. Additionally, you may exit at the Htikee Land Boundary Checkpoint, although access from here is not possible.
Flying in as well as out of Yangon is less costly and has extra links than Mandalay.
Getting around Myanmar– Cross Country
Myanmar’s local transport options might be discouraging yet the cross country propositions are much more attractive.
Distances are far, road travel is slow-moving and flying is economical so it might be your far better option.
You can still book flights the old-school means by wandering right into a travel agent.
Flying within Myanmar is a bit like flying in the older days– check-in involves ticking people off a listing of printed names, luggage claim can mean leaving the flight terminal and getting your bag off a trolley by the aircraft and also flight announcements are made by an individual holding up a sign and also calling your flight (in incomprehensible English). It actually is an experience. As well as a great deal of fun if you don’t let it get you stressed.Buses are inexpensive with competing businesses and also a series of deluxe levels.
A lot of buses travel over night which is fantastic for not losing a day of sightseeing and tour, yet isn’t so terrific for sleep. Likewise, you’ll often tend to arrive at strange times in the early morning and will not be able to check into your hostel or hotel until 2 p.m. That’s a great deal of hours waiting on a ‘top-up’ nap. Take into consideration if it will be more affordable to fly if you’re going to book accommodation the very same night to rest immediately.
Buses are extremely cold, the deluxe buses will certainly offer you a blanket but, wear your warm layers.
Even the VIP bus doesn’t have a toilet onboard so anticipate to stop every few hours for a food and toilet break– a bit aggravating if you’re attempting to rest through the night.
Night buses are not sleeper buses, even though these are the buses which bring you to your location around 3 or 4am. What’s even more, some still play their funky local song CD’s as well as cheesy video till the early hours of the early morning. Pack your iPod, purchase some sturdy extreme ear plugs or kindly request for the sound to be turned off.
Never ever ask a vehicle driver regarding he time of arrival. Due to superstitions based on a belief system of nats (spirits) that existed before Buddhism came to the fore, asking when you will reach a location conjures up bad spirits as well as is taken seriously. The outcome? You won’t obtain a response.
You will primarily book buses through your hotel, hostel or guesthouse– they will normally charge a cost but know that the cost can differ significantly.
Check whether pickup is included in your ticket price – this really does vary depending on destination, mode of traveling and company. Search for a business that does include pick-up as taxis are extortionate.
Reserving buses online is more difficult– There isn’t one useful online booking site and also the ones that do exist have a restricted number of tickets. If you’re told they’re sold out, it does not necessarily indicate the bus is full. Attempt reservation in other places.
If the company has a Facebook page, message to book without charges.
Buses are generally faster than the trains, but bus rides are rough– you may take into consideration taking tablets for motion sickness. Boats are likewise an option for some paths; the Mandalay– Bagan service is popular amongst tourists.
There are no international car-rental companies, but most travel agencies in Yangon, Mandalay as well as Bagan– in addition to guesthouses and also hotels somewhere else– can organize cars and also drivers.
Myanmar’s Local Transport
Myanmar is still developing as well as this is most frustratingly evident in the local transport.
With limited public transport, taxis will be your main method of getting around particularly for getting to and also from airport terminals and within cities like Yangon and Mandalay.
Taxi prices are past extortionate– rates are set on the spot (after a quick ‘just how much can I get away with’ calculation) as well as you’re going to need to negotiate hard. It’s not uncommon to hear prices of $1-$2 per kilometre. Frequently the taxi to and also from the airport/bus will certainly be more than you spent for your flight or intercity bus.
1,000 Kyat per kilometre is a good approximate amount for taxi fares.
Cabs for the day may be your better bet– it can be around $35 for a day of sightseeing in Bagan and also $28 for a couple of hrs in Mandalay.
Distance is a much larger aspect than time in dictating the cost of hiring a driver: a 12 hour journey about Yangon can cost USD 70 while travelling further afield to Golden Rock, a 2.5 hour drive each means, can be quoted at USD 200. Gas is expensive in Myanmar as well as is a significant contributing variable to the cost.
Everybody wishes to take you to a craft store, a silk factory or a nut manufacturer throughout your sightseeing and tour journeys. Don’t hesitate to say no when you’re paying for your own personal transportation. Besides, that’s the reason you are paying a premium. On the flip side, several of the side journeys can be interesting and drivers may take you to some cool locations that aren’t on your plan and you may be happy you chose their recommendations!
Hiring bikes and e-Bikes (electric motorbikes) outside the cities is much more affordable yet beware of the dust– Myanmar is without a doubt one of the dustiest places, and nearly all travelers create a dust coughing. Pack sunglasses and something to cover your mouth.
Don’t take an e-Bike if you can’t handle it– otherwise you’ll be just one of the several travelers walking toting head to foot road rash as well as plasters.
The large cities are gridlocked so walking may be quicker– Yangon has several of the worst traffic. 1.5 hrs to cover 15 km ought to give you an idea. The time recommended for reaching the bus station (22km far from the centre) is 2.5 hrs.
Car quality is hit and miss so don’t count on air-conditioning and also leather seats– that 1.5 hr trip in Yangon could all be done in 38 degree heat with nothing more than the heat of the engine fan to ‘cool’ you down.
Get ready for the unexpected. When your night bus to Bagan arrives in the extremely early hrs of the early morning, your only alternative to get to my hotel may be through horse and cart. There is still a haggling process to be had, however considering that this is the major form of traveler transportation here it is just all-natural that they are waiting on new bus arrivals.
Money and also ATM Machines in Myanmar
You can utilize 2 currencies in Myanmar– dollars and also the local money, kyat (pronounced ‘chat’).
If you’re going to make use of dollars, they need to be pristine. What’s pristine/brand new– unfolded, uncreased and also newer than 2006. Each specific note is checked thoroughly for imperfections, discolouration and also creases at the currency exchange booths. You might additionally have problems changing notes with the AB/CB serial numbers.
Some vendors demand payments in United States bucks so you can bring some United States dollars to spend.
Utilizing kyat is likely to be more affordable since the USD currency exchange rate is informal– someplace in between 1,300 to 1,400 kyat, the exchange rate is normally applied on the spot, most likely depending upon just how rich you look.
There are ATMs and they mainly function but make certain you have cash prior to showing up at more remote spots like the beach. In some cases they may be out of service.
You’ll pay an ATM machine charge of about $4 for every single withdrawal which is in addition to any type of costs your bank may charge. As well as you most likely won’t have the ability to withdraw more than $150 at a time.
ATMs dispense kyat only. There are lots of exchange places about, but primarily the transactions are to change pristine dollars into local money.
Wait for the big cities orinternational airport to change money back to dollars.
Some hotels do not have credit card machines and also call for cash payment. If you have booked your hotels ahead of time online this may save you taking added money for lodging.
Credit cards are accepted primarily only in top-end hotels. Some travel agents in Yangon as well as Mandalay also take them, usually billing a small cost, for purchasing flights.
Cost of travelling in Myanmar
Myanmar is a great deal more expensive than the rest of Southeast Asia– facilities is still being constructed. That includes guesthouses as well as dining establishments. Businesses are recovering their costs.
A dorm bed will certainly set you back around $20-$30 a night. You can get a basic private room with en-suite from around $35 for a single bed. In vacationer hotspots like Bagan, you can pay US$35 to US$40 for a drab, no-frills room.
For hotels, luxury resorts can be priced at over USD 200 a night (the Inle Princess Resort being a fine example where high-end comes with a rate of $250 per night) with other great options can be found at $100 to $150 (eg Zfreeti hotel in Bagan which sets you back around $120 a night). A contemporary hotel can set you back USD 75-80 a night (the Smart Hotel in Mandalay).
Popular ‘package tourist’ locations like Ngapali coastline can cost as much as $100 a night for a 2-star resort (though there are a couple of hostels there too). On the plus side, you typically obtain a totally free breakfast with your holiday accommodation.
Street food is most inexpensive– around $1-$2 for a plate of something basic. Local restaurants cost around $2-$4 a meal. Anything remotely western (air-conditioning or featuring something like pizza) will set you back $7-$12.
Mineral water is inexpensive, under 50 cents a litre. Beer is also economical at a couple of bucks per bottle.
The tourist dollar is king. Anticipate to spend for the benefit of being a foreigner and also making use of squat toilets, entering pagodas, storing shoes and also taking photos. ‘Foreigner payments’ are popular in the more touristy areas.
It’s possible to bargain on costs of items like mementos but if you haggle too hard the locals lose interest and also walk away.
Tipping is not typical practice in Myanmar, and it’s only foreigners that tip.
Taking in the sights in Myanmar
We were up and out most days for sunrise as well as out cold by 10pm! The heat is usually excruciating throughout the peak sunlight hrs and the arrival of the visitor buses make it more difficult to get outstanding pictures as well as move easily.
Not anywhere on a map of Myanmar is open for exploration. The far north, mountainous area of Myanmar, along with the western Chin State and the far, crime levels are remarkably reduced.
Still, you need to take the usual preventative measures of using hotel storage lockers or safes for your belongings. Women travellers should not experience any kind of harassment or different treatment.
Do take hand sanitiser– the cash is dirty and also there isn’t always soap in washrooms so use your sanitiser before you touch anything that will certainly go near your mouth.
Watch out for the dust- Myanmar can be very dusty so do carry something to cover your mouth as well as nose when biking around. Likewise take care with your a/c– Myanmar can be as warm. Consequently, lots of visitors use the a/c in their room but sleeping in low temperature levels can make you sick.
Fruit is simple to come by so top up your body immune system with nutrients this way. Nevertheless, as it’s typically pre-cut, look for a vendor that has actually kept the flies away as well as if it’s sluiced with water, make sure it’s filtered water.
The majority of government advisories advise against traveling to parts of Rakhine (Rakhaing) State in western Myanmar, where clashes between local authorities as well as the minority Muslim (Rohingya) communities has actually resulted in the mass displacement of countless people. Some other parts of the nation remain shut to foreigners due to dispute between the government and different ethnic militaries clustered in eastern and northern Myanmar. These locations are mainly in Kachin and Shan States, near to the frontiers with China and also Thailand, and also far from the major visitor locations.
Precise information on conflicts as well as closed locations can be challenging to find. Check your government’s guidance prior to taking a trip, and also ask about the situation when you are in Myanmar. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree travel forum is a great source of information from tourists on the ground.
What to wear in Myanmar
A lot of the locals dress conservatively| as well as cover their shoulders and also legs in spite of the heat, as well as you will make everybody more comfortable if you follow suit.
Knee length shorts, long skirts, elephant pants as well as tee shirts are the attire of choice. These are highly encouraged and also usually enforced for getting in the temples and pagodas.
Everybody wears skirts– men and women alike– the longyi, a long skirt, is the popular traditional dress in Myanmar for both men and women. Numerous vacationers pick one up as they’re breezy in the warmth and also tick the ‘traditional wear’ box. They are practical for sightseeing and tour so grab an affordable one a the market if you have the chance.
Flip flops are important! Entering pagodas implies going barefoot and also flip flops are the most effective footwear choice. Struggling with shoelaces in the scorching heat is an unwelcome distraction. Bring some cleaning wipes for your feet after going to a pagoda.
Myanmar is a conservative nation so you’ll blend far better if you dress conservatively (covering your knees and also shoulders). You will find people in shorts and strappy tops in the cities and at the beach yet in other places it’s much less common.
The local people are remarkably genteel and also not used to confrontation so pack your good manners and your patience. Travelling can be discouraging, warm and also slow-moving however remember: you chose to see Myanmar which it’s not the same as being at home is no good reason to take it out on the citizens. Nevertheless, bargain hard with the taxi drivers.
You may get stopped a great deal by citizens who intend to chat. Travelers are no longer a novelty in the majority of Southeast Asia yet Myanmar is different. Usually the people are beautiful as well as are happy to appear in photographs and also attempt and also chat through limited usual words or sign language.
You maylikewise get stared at a whole lot which is normally best dealt with by providing a smile and a mingalabar (hello in Burmese). Burmese English can be hard to understand, be patient, pay attention and if you’re spending for a guide, make sure they have excellent clear English before you book.
The red stained pavements are a consequence of spewing red coloured saliva after chewing betel quids, tiny parcels that contain tobacco, spices and areca nuts covered in a betel leaf. It’s possibly popular| since it provides a hit that amounts to six mugs of coffee. But, as well as being dangerous when chewed long term, the by-product is bright-red saliva which is spat out, most times onto the ground.
Lots of locals have the tell tale red discolored teeth and also cab drivers frequently roll down the window in slow traffic to spew after chewing on the betel quids.
There is some begging by youngsters in Myanmar and as heartbreaking as it is, you should not give to the youngsters. Why not? Read this great article by Uncornered Market.
It’s common to see yellow circles pasted on the faces of the Burmese women. This is Thanaka, a cosmetic paste made from ground bark, which is a beauty item in Myanmar and also works as a sun block.
It’s also common to hear a kissing sound in the cafes and also restaurants as citizens make use of the kissing noise as an ask for service. Apparently it’s much easier for staff to identify the location of the kissing sound so do not be surprised!
Both most important expressions you require in Myanmar are:
Not only is it polite, but it is well received. Be prepared for most locals to giggle in response– they are not mocking you; they are just not anticipating it.
Other practical concerns in Myanmar
Laundry is usually done by hand and is charged per item rather than kilo so try to turn up with your garments washed and also unless you wish to turn over $20 for a load of washing, choose the items you truly need washing as well as clean your smaller sized items on your own as you go.
Toiletries are easy to find by yet tampons are not so bring what you need with you.
You can not flush toilet tissue or sanitary products– this is extremely common in developing nations where the plumbing system can’t manage anything other than bodily fluids.
Myanmar has that odd half-hour difference| to its time zone so it’s 6 and a half hours in advance of GMT.
Most of the plug sockets of Myanmar have numerous adaptors for European and also North American 2-pin plugs as well as British three-pin.
Wi-fi is bad in Myanmar so you either need to overcome it or, far better still, purchase a local SIM. You can obtain one at a lot of airport terminals when you land or in one of the stores in the street as well as the shop staff will certainly have you set up in about 5 minutes. You can find out more concerning your network options right here. Still, with 1 mbps taken into consideration to be a ‘rapid’ connection, don’t anticipate to be downloading videos at any time. Online accessibility has actually improved, with wi-fi becoming the standard– most hotels, guesthouses as well as coffee shops have it completely free– and also the internet is now spreading tomore remote locations. However tightly squeezed bandwidth as well as power failures can use the net a frustrating exercise.
Do your research beforehand or pack a guidebook, and also don’t expect to Skype home very frequently, it’s barely possible to get a messenger service to operate at times!
You’ll be much better with a backpack than a travel suitcase. aren’t suitable on dusty, sandy, unevenroadways. Entering and out of myriad forms of transportation as well as hefting it up lots of high staircases isn’t far better.
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